This is the full June 15th, 2008 episode of the Labor Express Radio program. Part I of my interview with Mark Brenner of Labor Notes on the 2008 SEIU convention in Puerto Rico. The convention gave a growing reform caucus within the union an opportunity to challenge the direction the union has taken in recent years under the leadership of Andy Stern. Reformers argue that business unionism has increasingly replaced the social movement orientation of the union. They point to a decrease in union democracy and an increase in “backroom deals” between union leadership and corporate America, with no consultation with the rank-and-file membership. The convention also highlighted the anger of Puerto Rican teachers, members of Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico (FMPR), who are resisting attempts by SEIU Local 1199 to take control of their independent union. This program also includes an interview with Maneesha Bidani of South Asian Progressive Action Collective (SAPAC), about the hunger strike of Indian guest workers, employees of Signal International, who argue that they were tricked into paying tens of thousands of dollars for guest worker permits, only to find themselves living and working in near slavery like conditions on the U.S. Gulf Coast. The program also includes audio from the 5th year anniversary of the Congress Hotel Strike in downtown Chicago. The Congress Hotel strike in now the longest running active strike in the country.
Labor Express Radio is Chicago's only English language labor news and current affairs program. News for working people, by working people. Labor Express Radio airs every Sunday night at 7:00 PM on Chicago's independent community radio station, WLUW.